Published Tuesday, 20 October 2020
Coventry’s senior councillor, responsible for housing and homelessness, is calling on the courts to urgently reconsider their proposal for housing hearings to be listed outside of Coventry from the end of the month.
Cllr David Welsh, Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities, has written to the court service raising concerns on behalf of Coventry City Council, relating to housing possession and eviction hearings for Coventry residents.
The letter states…’It is my understanding that the proposal is for housing hearings to be listed outside of Coventry from the end of this month, with hearings to take place in the Nuneaton court centre. Those facing eviction in Coventry will therefore have to travel outside of the City to attend.’
Councillor Welsh said: “I’ve written to the court service to remind them that many Coventry residents are suffering immense hardship, and having to travel to attend court hearings outside of the city is not acceptable.
“In some cases Coventry residents will have to pay up to £8 for a journey that could take as long as one hour and 20 minutes.”
In the letter Cllr Welsh adds that…‘Furthermore, the undertaking of this journey will cause additional challenges to those with disabilities and childcare responsibilities. Factoring in a journey that is over an hour long, around school drop off and collection times can be problematic for some. With hearings taking place outside of Coventry, agencies that could support them may not be available. Therefore, the cost and travel time may prevent some individuals from attending, which could impact on their ability to represent themselves and enable the court to understand their individual circumstances.’
Cllr Welsh added: “I’m deeply concerned about access to justice for our residents and the impact on homelessness this winter.”
Cllr Welsh also has the backing of advice agencies and partner organisations based in Coventry.
He has requested that any such hearings relating to those living in Coventry are heard at the city courts and says that he wants to work with the courts to try to help identify an alternative venue in Coventry city centre.
He said: “We want to work with the court service and if it has challenges around availability of courts and capacity, I am happy to support an alternative accessible venue within Coventry.”